See our review here. We rated it at 4.4/5.
Google Home Max – $549
First there was the Google Home, then the Google Home Mini (see the next item for these). Most recently Google has introduced its Home Max, a bigger bolder speaker for your loved one’s smart home.
This one packs stereo speakers and comes in at a solid 5.3 kilograms. Two of them can work as a stereo pair. They work as “Chromecast” speakers and can reproduce high resolution audio (up to 24-bit/192kHz sampling). And of course they respond to “Okay Google” with just about any information you need.
But they’re smart in another way. They continually analyse the sound they’re reproducing and adjust it to optimise the sound for the acoustics of the room and where they’re located.
See our review here. We rated it at 4.5/5.
Google Home or Home Mini – $199/$79
Here’s where it all began for Google. And here are a pair of sensibly priced Google Assistant speakers. The cool things about these is as gifts, one can’t really receive too many of them. Particularly the Home Mini. Your loved one can have one in every room, so they’re always ready to act on his or her commands.
The Mini is so/so for audio. It is a tiny little thing. But it uses almost no space. The Google Home is better on the sound, although for real audio quality look at some of the other speakers we’ve mentioned here. These ones work best for practical applications. And being from Google, they’re likely to be the first to be upgraded for any new hardware features.
See our review here. We rated them at 4.2/5.
Panasonic SC-GA10 Wireless Smart Speaker – $379
Panasonic was one of the first to launch a smart home speaker compatible with Google Assistant. And being an audio company, it does a first-class job on sound quality (within the constraints imposed by size). Most smart speakers are round. This one may fit your loved one’s décor better if he or she prefers square.
Square styling, but not square sound. We were pretty impressed with the audio quality. It went nicely loud and the Google Assistant function worked well. It also works as a DLNA speaker for those who prefer that older Wi-Fi audio standard.
Sonos Beam – $599
Sonos is famous for creating the first successful multiroom audio system. So, the Sonos Beam is going to be best for your loved one if he or she already has a Sonos household. But even as a standalone, in the form of a compact soundbar, it produces respectable sound. And it listens for commands.
In fact, it’s multilingual. When we reviewed it back in the middle of the year, it then spoke only (Amazon) Alexa. But by now it should have the other two promised languages added: (Google) Assistant and (Apple) Siri.
And if your loved one wants to expand it to a full surround system, Sonos has plenty of other speakers to handle the other channels.
See our review here. We rated it at 3.8/5.